THE Church of the future would be characterised by a high degree of inner flexibility, stated Fr. Bernhard Hanssler, spiritual director of the Central Committee of German Catholics, when speaking in Hamburg recently. It would "not he the Church of rigorous authority, not the Church of solemn dignity".
Bishops of the future would no longer be ecclesiastical princes but fathers of the Church. " Priests are the fathers of their parishes and. at the same time, the brothers of those who arc struggling," he continued.
The laypeople were the missionary witnesses to the faith on the outer edges of the Church's world and in those spheres where Christ was not even known any longer, let alone recognised.
Speaking of the future position of the diaspora—the useful German term to describe a scattered Catholic minority living in a predominantly non-Catholic environment — Fr. Hanssler said that every individual Christian would have to become a witness to the faith. His concern would he not only for his private salvation but also for the salvation of the world and of the historical moment.
Fr. Hanssler also emphasised the urgency of the task of making Christians capable of living in a diaspora. Christians must learn from the "profane" world how to stand fast in a diaspora instead of being themselves corroded by the "profane" world. It was not sufficient to limit oneself to an ideal of preservation.